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Wrestling notebook: Britton's improved patience on mat comes courtesy of his golf game

The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) — Tom Housenick The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Jan. 12--Devon Britton stepped off the podium at last month's Liberty's Holiday Wrestling Classic with a championship trophy in his hands and a smile on his face.

The smile didn't last long, though. Blink and you may have missed it.

"Devon is the type of guy who doesn't show too much happy emotion, to put it lightly," Northampton coach Seth Lisa said. "To see that happiness in his face is definitely a good sign."

Though the smile was brief, winning has continued since the junior captured his first varsity tournament.

He's won 12 consecutive bouts entering this weekend's Escape the Rock tournament at Council Rock South High School.

Britton is part of a stellar 132-pound field led by New Jersey state champion and four-time Fargo winner Nicky Raimo. Bethlehem Catholic's Jarred Papcsy and Easton's Jonathan Miers also are seeded ahead of Northampton's standout.

That only provides more motivation for the two-time state qualifier who remains hard on himself.

"The Holiday proved to me that I'm doing something right," Britton acknowledged. "So, I gained more confidence to go in the room and work even harder."

Lisa fears that Britton's insatiable desire to get better can be detrimental.

Britton is attempting to take something from another sport to better understand that the process of reaching your potential sometimes includes dialing it back a little.

"One day, I'll go out and shoot a really good score," he said of golf, "and the next day, I'll blow up and shoot 102 and feel like breaking a club.

"Golf, it's teaching me to be a little patient."

Wrestling also showed Britton that sometimes good things come to those who wait. Opponents used his eagerness and hyper-aggressive nature to their advantage at the Beast of the East, where he finished eighth.

It remains a work-in-progress a month later because Britton remains his toughest critic. He believes he has yet to consistently achieve a 6-minute motor on the mat.

Britton expects to be moving forward from the opening whistle with no let-up until the match is over.

"I just want to attack the whole time," he said. "Some matches, I get a little tired, a little slow.

"There are a few skills I want to fix. I've been watching tape to try to work on breaking those bad habits."

Lisa is hoping Britton will give himself a break so the Northampton coach won't have to.

It is the only criticism Lisa can find with the junior.

"He takes everything you tell him to heart," Lisa said. "He's fun to coach. Working hard is never a concern for us with Devon. His mindset is, 'The harder I work, the better I get.'

"There's a lot to be said about that, but it's our job as coaches to make sure he doesn't do that to a fault."

In addition to making trips up the District 11, Northeast Regional and PIAA podiums in the coming weeks, Lisa is counting on Britton to step up in the Konkrete Kids' wrestling room.

Right now, he's a leader by example. What Lisa would love to see is the kind of leadership he was exposed to when he wrestled two decades earlier at Northampton.

"When I was a freshman, Christian Luciano was a senior," Lisa recalled. "I made sure I was always working hard to impress Christian.

"These guys feel that way about Devon, but it's not quite the same way. [Devon] is not as vocal. I'm hoping in the coming months and next year that Devon turns into the leader this team needs."

For now, however, Britton is comfortable leading by example. The 132-pounder perhaps will allow more success to lead to bigger smiles from higher steps on podiums around the state.

Maybe, that will transition him into a more relaxed -- and more vocal -- leader.

EASTON-PHILLIPSBURG TICKETS: Reserved tickets for Easton's annual showdown with rival Phillipsburg are on sale online at www.eastonrovertickets.com.

The match is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Easton Middle School.

Phillipsburg fans can get their tickets at the Stateliners' athletic office.

Any remaining tickets will be on sale (cash only) in the Easton H.S. gym lobby from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday (before the Parkland match), plus Thursday-Friday, Jan. 18-19, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the athletic office. Tickets are $6, $3 for students and senior citizens.

NOTES: Jim McCabe won his 100th match last weekend as Tamaqua's head coach. ... Bethlehem Catholic's Robert Spezza won the William Vitez Memorial Award as the outstanding wrestler at Wednesday's Liberty-Bethlehem Catholic match. Vitez was a 1937 Liberty graduate. Spezza beat Damen Moyer at 195 pounds.

DISTRICT 11 TEAM RATINGS

Class 3A

Place. Team (Dual meet record), Rating

1. Bethlehem Catholic (5-0), 0.890743

2. Liberty (12-1), 0.816378

3. Nazareth (5-0), 0.811524

4. Easton (4-1), 0.781851

5. Northampton (7-2), 0.764782

6. Stroudsburg (7-2), 0.760791

7. Pottsville (14-3), 0.686626

8. Blue Mountain (10-2), 0.667778

9. East Stroudsburg South (5-3), 0.667765

10. Bangor (9-4), 0.630451

11. Whitehall (5-4), 0.572524

12. Freedom (5-4), 0.561570

13. Parkland (4-5), 0.556581

14. Allen (5-4), 0.522277

15. Emmaus (2-2), 0.514419

Class 2A

Place. Team (Dual meet record), Rating

1. Saucon Valley (9-0), 0.775938

2. Wilson (12-3), 0.714845

3. Pine Grove (4-2), 0.607254

4. Lehighton (8-2), 0.586079

5. Northwestern (5-3), 0.5665401

6. Panther Valley (4-4), 0.566000

7. Mahanoy Area (3-1), 0.518848

8. Pen Argyl (3-7), 0.466628

9. Tamaqua (3-5), 0.444218

10. Catasauqua (2-5), 0.398693

11. North Schuylkill (2-7), 0.390106

12. Notre Dame-GP (1-3), 0.359748

13. Jim Thorpe (0-2), 0.345654

14. Northern Lehigh (1-9), 0.340360

15. Palisades (2-7), 0.313840

Note: Top 12 in each class make the District 11 tournament.

A LOOK AHEAD

Here's a peak at next week's top 5 events:

Parkland at Easton, Wednesday

Northampton at Nazareth, Thursday

Bangor at Saucon Valley, Thursday

Phillipsburg at Easton, Saturday

Bethlehem Catholic at Wyoming Seminary, Saturday

thousenick@mcall.com

610-820-6651

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